Sunday, March 30, 2014

Update: Odds and ends

This update features a mixed bag of all sorts of writers, many of which sound as interesting as their books (or, in some cases, more so).  For instance, there is apparently a whole sub-genre of British women writers whose psychic abilities (purported or—who knows?—real) formed the basis of their fame, and this update contains not one, but two of them!

Geraldine Cummins

GERALDINE CUMMINS, who called herself a medium, was also a suffragist, playwright, and author of two novels and a story collection.  Her fiction reportedly dealt with feminist themes, but she also published a memoir, Unseen Adventures (1951), which surely dealt with her psychic experiences.

NELL ST. JOHN MONTAGUE seems to have preferred the term "clairvoyante" to describe her particular skills.  She even published a guide to fortune telling, The Red Fortune Book, but of course her appearance on my list is due to the three novels she wrote in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  She was one of at least two or three writers on my list to be killed in a World War II bombing raid.

I thought I had exhausted every possible Edwardian author in my series of updates a while back, but two more have crept in to this update.  Both GEORGETTE AGNEW and MARY STUART BOYD published their final novels in 1911—just squeaking past my 1910 cutoff.  Both sound like they could be entertaining.

This catchall update also has three more authors of World War I books.  There's the mysterious THOMASINA ATKINS (the pseudonym of "Private [W.A.A.C.] on Active Service"), whose true identity has never, as far as I can tell, been revealed, but whose charming letters about the war in France make for entertaining reading.  MONICA COSENS was later a playwright and children's author, but is perhaps most remembered for her book, Lloyd George's Munition Girls (1916).  And LOUISE HEILGERS was a popular periodical writer whose war stories appeared in Somewhere in France: Stories of the Great War (1915).

Dedication of the letters of Thomasina Atkins

And what would an update be without a couple of World War II writers as well.  MONICA FELTON was known primarily for her later writings about the culture and politics of North Korea and India, but she published a single novel, To All the Living (1945), which dealt with factory workers in wartime England, and I'm finding that one quite tempting.  And although BARBARA SKELTON qualified for my list because her first novel, A Young Girl's Touch, appeared in 1956, her later memoirs, including her experiences in wartime, are the books that are calling my name.

Although the portrait above might not reflect how she looked by the time she became a novelist (it's the best I can do for a photo of her, however), JULIET SOSKICE was not only the sister of one of my favorite modernist authors, Ford Madox Ford, but her memoir about growing up in a rather bohemian family sounds quite enticing in its own right.

Finally, there's little doubt that VIOLET VAN DER ELST's own rags-to-riches-to-rags story is as interesting as anything in her two collections of stories about the supernatural.  Van Der Elst was a working class girl who made a fortune creating a new shaving cream, but then lost it during her passionate lifelong battle against the death penalty.  The cover of her book on the topic (above) is surely a masterpiece of ominous, overwrought imagery—not to mention the rather odd image of Van Der Elst herself looking rather debonair at the foot of the gallows).

Violet Van Der Elst

The complete list of 38 authors is below.  All have already been added to the main list.

(married name Easdale, aka Francis Adoney, aka Gladys Ellen Killin)

Described in her archives as having spent her life "on the margins of the London literary and musical scene," Adeney numbered Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West among her friends; she published a colorful memoir, Middle Age, 1885-1932 (1935) and one novel, Don't Blame the Stars (1951).

(née Christian, aka Nevin Halys)

Playwright, poet, and author of light romantic fiction; titles include The Countess: A Summer Idyll (1905), The Night that Brings Out Stars (1908), and The Bread Upon the Waters (1911); she does not appear to have written fiction after 1911.

THOMASINA ATKINS (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of "Private [W.A.A.C.] on Active Service"; real identity unknown)

Author of The Letters of Thomasina Atkins (1918), a lively and entertaining record of World War I as witnessed by a W.A.A.C. stationed in France; as far as I've been able to determine, her true identity has never been discovered (the pseudonym feminizes the generic term for a male soldier).

VIOLA BANKES (1900-????)

Daughter of the Bankes family whose estate, Kingston Lacy, she later memorialized in A Dorset Heritage (1953), her novel Shadow-Show (1922) was a runner-up for a John Long Best First Novel contest; a second book, Men for Pieces, was advertised but seems never to have appeared.

MARJORIE BINNIE (c1894-????)
(née Cope, other married name Dove?)

Apparently the author of only a single novel, Women with Men (1935), set in Africa, Binnie spent her early life in Singapore before moving to South Africa to farm with her husband.

NOREEN BOND (1902-1981)
(pseudonym of Nancy Helen Beckh)

More research needed; author of two novels, Hide Away (1936) and Take Care (1938), but so far I can find no information about them.

MARY STUART BOYD (1860-1937)
(née Kirkwood)

Boyd started her brief writing career with two travel books, followed by eight novels published 1902 to 1911, including With Clipped Wings (1902), The Misses Make-Believe (1906), The Glen (1910), and The Mystery of the Castle (1911), after which she appears to have stopped publishing.

MARY BYRON (????-1935)
(née Anderson)

Forgotten author of two poetry collections, A Voice from the Veld (1913) and The Owls (1920), and one collection of stories, Dawn and Dusk in the High Veld (1931), described as: "Vivid short stories and true sketches of life among the scattered farms of South Africa."

(née Somerville)

Author of four novels—O'Reilly of the Glen (1918), Margot (1918), Sons of the Settlers (1920), and The Lad (1923); the last, at least, sounds a bit overwrought: "Silvia's life tragedy lies in the friends and surroundings to which she sees [her son] doomed through the poverty of her married life."

(née Latham)

Wife of Indian High Court judge Sir Charles William Chitty, after her husband retirement and relocation back to England, Chitty published a single novel, The Black Buddha (1926); she had earlier published several short stories in periodicals.

KAY CORNWALLIS (1888-1969)
(pseudonym of Irene Wallis, married name Jones)

Author of new novels of the 1930s—Jeopardy Incurred (1933) and Travel Stained (1934); the latter is about an English family relocating to Boston, and the nearly-disastrous flirtation of the young wife.

Monica Cosens

MONICA COSENS (dates unknown)

Playwright and children's author (mostly in collaboration with Brenda Girvin), probably best known today for her gung-ho World War I memoir, Lloyd George's Munition Girls (1916), which paints a humorous but significant portrait of one area of women's war experience.


Irish novelist, playwright, suffragist, and psychic medium; author of two plays for the Abbey Theatre, two novels with feminist themes—The Land They Loved (1919) and Fires of Beltane (1936)—a collection of stories called Variety Show (1959), and a memoir, Unseen Adventures (1951).

(aka Barbara Dew Roberts, aka B. Roberts)

Historian and author of at least four novels, some or all of them historical in subject, including Still Glides the Stream (1940), Some Trees Stand (1945), The Island Feud (1947), and The Charlie Trees: A Jacobite Novel (1951).


Originally a writer on education and domestic economy, Dodd published around a dozen novels, including A Vagrant Englishwoman (1905), Queen Anne Farthings (1928), Scarlet Gables (1929), Bells of Thyme (1930), and Paul and Perdita (1932), and a biography of Mary Shelley (1933).

MARIBEL EDWIN (1895-1985)
(née Thomson)

Novelist and children's author whose works include The Valiant Jester (1930), Windfall Harvest (1931), Sound Alibi (1935), Atmosphere for Gloria (1935), and Return to Youth (1937), as well as Wild Life Stories (1933), a nature title lavishly illustrated by Raymond Sheppard.

CICELY ERSKINE (1873-1969)
(née Quicke)

Author of several sex education and birth control books in the 1920s, Erskine also wrote what appears to be a novel called Whisper (1931), but online information about any of her titles is virtually nonexistent.

MONICA FELTON (1906-1970)
(née Page)

Later known for her writings on North Korea and India, including That's Why I Went: The Record of a Journey to North Korea (1953) and A Child Widow's Story (1966), Felton began her career with one novel, To All the Living (1945), dealing with wartime factory life in England.

(aka Henrietta Heilgers)

Popular periodical author and novelist in the 1910s and 1920s; many of her stories were collected in books like Tabloid Tales (1911) and Somewhere in France: Stories of the Great War (1915); she later wrote novels including Babette Wonders Why (1916) and The Dark Lamp (1927).

MARY HOLDER (dates unknown)
(married name Bligh)

Stage actress with the Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespearean Company and author of six novels of the 1930s—The Dusky Highway (1932), The Strange Tale of Eastermain (1933), Radiant Interlude (1933), Rich Earth (1934), To-day Is Ours (1935), and Moonlight in Winter (1937).


Author of six novels of dark psychological drama; Hanging Johnny (1927), about "a misunderstood executioner," Relentless (1930), The Maiden (1932), The Rising (1939), Amiel (1941), about the horrors of war, and A Robin Redbreast in a Cage (1950), about an acquitted murderer.

(née Ethel Howe, married name Smith, aka R. Hernekin Baptist)

Best known for editing (ghostwriting?) the memoirs of Alfred Aloysius Horn, a prominent African trader, Lewis also wrote several adventures making use of her own knowledge of Africa, including The Harp (1925), The Flying Emerald (1925), Mantis (1926), and Wild Deer (1933).

(née Chalmers)

More research needed; author of four novels in the 1900s and 1910s; The Shade of the Acacia (1907), set amidst foxhunting, deals with a man’s love for his best friend’s wife; other titles are The Little Tin Gods (1901), Sons of the Blood (1910), and Sink Red Sun (1914).

(married name Methol)

More research needed; apparently the author of a single novel, Content (1925), about which little information is available.

(pseudonym of Eleanor Barry, née Lucie-Smith, sometimes given as Standish-Barry)

Clairvoyant and author of three novels—Under Indian Stars (1929), The Poison Trail (1930), and Love That Ruins! (1931); she also wrote a memoir, Revelations of a Society Clairvoyant (1926); she died in an air raid on London in August of 1944.

NANCY PRICE (1880-1970)
(married name Maude)

Actress, theatre director, founder of the People's Theatre, travel and nature writer, playwright, poet, memoirist, and novelist (!!); Price published numerous books about the English countryside, as well as a story collection, Jack by the Hedge (1942) and one novel, Ta-mera (1950).

LETTICE [MILNE] RAE (1882-1959)

Author of a history of the Ladies' Edinburgh Debating Society, Ladies in Debate (1936), Rae also wrote at least five novels—The Stranger on the Aventine (1913), Mr. Suffer-long (1920), The Victorious Mile (1928), The Auld Alliance (1931), and The Woman in the Crowd (1940).


Irish author of a single novel, The Tenant of Sea Cottage (1916), about which little information is available.

OLIVE SALTER (1897-1976)

Singer and stage performer, editor of Motor Cycling magazine in the 1910s, and author of several novels, including Martha and Mary (1921), God's Wages (1922), Out of Bondage (1923), and Magda Korda (1934).


More research needed; playwright and novelist, author of at least three novels—Unwelcome Visitors (1926), The Wrong Wife: A Novel of the Twenties (1932), and The Turn of the Wheel (1938).

Barbara Skelton

(married names Connolly, Weidenfeld, and Jackson)

Author of two novels—A Young Girl's Touch (1956) and the darkly humorous A Love Match (1969)—and one story collection, Born Losers (1965), Skelton is best known for her memoirs Tears Before Bedtime (1987) and Weep No More (1989), the former of which includes her experiences in WWII.

One of Barbara Skelton's novels has
been reissued as a "Faber Find"

(née Hueffer)

Granddaughter of artist Ford Madox-Brown and sister of Ford Madox Ford, Soskice wrote an acclaimed memoir of her bohemian youth, Chapters from Childhood (1921), and at least five novels, including A Woman Scorned (1925), A Gay Rover (1931), and The Woman of Shadows (1937).

GLADYS ST. JOHN-LOE (1893-1977)
(née Magson)

Playwright and author of at least five novels of the 1920s and 1930s, including Spilled Wine (1922), Beggar's Banquet (1923), The Door of Beyond (1926), Who Feeds the Tiger (1935), and Smoking Altars (1936), as well as a story collection, Dust of the Dawn and Other Stories (1922).

(aka G. G. Pendarves, aka Marjory E. Lambe, aka ????)

A prominent author of ghost stories most of whose works, according to Richard Dalby, were published in periodicals and remain uncollected; the British Library does show a single novel, Crag's Foot Farm: A Novel of Leicestershire (1931).

Violet Van Der Elst in 1956

(née Dodge)

A fascinating rags-to-riches-to-rags story in herself, Van Der Elst was a working class girl, made a fortune creating a new shaving cream, then lost it fighting the death penalty; her two story collections are The Torture Chamber (1937) and Death of the Vampire Baroness and other Thrilling Stories (1945).

MARY WOODS (c1866-????)
(née Woodroffe, aka Daniel Woodroffe, aka Mrs. J. C. Woods)

Author of at least five novels as Daniel Woofroffe and one as Mrs. J. C. Woods; these are Her Celestial Husband (1895), Tangled Trinities (1901), The Evil Eye (1903), The Beauty Shop (1905), The Rat-Trap (1912), and The Quicksand (1933).


Authors of a single novel, Every Dog (1929), a far-fetched-sounding farce about a businessman trying to escape his responsibilities; The Spectator called the book “tedious, though funny in places.”

(married name Martienssen)

More research needed; author of seven novels 1935-1939, but apparently no others?; titles include Storm Before Sunrise (1935), The Door Stood Open (1936), The Unfinished Symphony (1937), The Lonely Guest (1937), Stray Cat (1938), Doves in Flight (1938), and Son of the Dark (1939).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NORAH LOFTS, The Brittle Glass (1942)

Quite a while back now, I posted about the Friends of the SF Public Library book sale and mentioned that I had acquired my first Norah Lofts novel.  Part of the reason I couldn't resist picking it up was that it would be the first "War Economy Standard" book to (permanently) grace my bookshelves.  Although these titles—printed on cheap, thin paper, relatively small print, and flimsy bindings—are hardly the crème de la crème when it comes to reader-friendly editions, the thought that they were produced in wartime England somehow makes me feel a connection to what, for me, is one of the most interesting times in literary—or any other—history.

War Economy Standard books came with this seal:

And, although I haven't seen this in other WES books I've borrowed from libraries, the Lofts book also has this disclaimer:

These notices notwithstanding, the book's ability to evoke its original readers—probably predominantly women, reading the book after an exhausting day of war work or waiting in queues or even while crowded into a bomb shelter—more than makes up for the small print and paper that, I suspect, might simply dissolve if splashed with water.

Only a night or two after finishing The Brittle Glass, Andy and I happened to watch Greta Garbo in Queen Christina.  And now and then while watching Garbo chewing the scenery (I admit that although we liked the movie we also indulged in a bit of mockery of the great Garbo's melodramatic close-ups—gazing forlornly at the ceiling before pausing the movie to refill our drinks and so on), I found myself thinking of Sorrel Kingaby, Lofts' memorable heroine.  The two heroines perhaps have little in common (and I doubt that Sorrel spent quite so much time worrying about her close-ups), but they are both women ahead of their time, occupying nontraditional positions for women, but also having to face the limitations, restrictions, and resentments those positions entail.  Suffice it to say that I found Lofts' version a bit more convincing, though.

Set in England in the years just after the French Revolution, The Brittle Glass follows Sorrel from birth until after her father's death, when she takes over his business and runs it "just like a man."  Josiah Kingaby has, bitterly, had little choice but to leave it to her, since his only son—out of a total of five children—has died in childhood.  He has alienated Sorrel with shoddy treatment, due to his resentment of her sex, but she is, in fact, a chip off the old block.

Cover of a more recent reprint

This novel—unlike so many of the books I write about here—is heavy on plot.  There is drama, bitterness, adventure, danger, resentment, romance, and crime galore, and Lofts is certainly a gifted storyteller—or else I am a pushover—as I found the novel compulsively readable.  It would therefore be a shame to give away very much of the plot, so I'll focus on characters and themes instead.

The story is told in turn by four main narrators, each of whom sees Sorrel from a different perspective—plus a fifth, who may be more or less Norah Lofts herself and who appears in a short epilogue.  Now, I admit that I very often find this strategy annoying.  Just as I get accustomed to one narrator, he or she vanishes and I have to familiarize myself with another one.  In the wrong hands, the technique can make an entire novel feel as awkward and alienating as those first few pages of even a quite good novel—all explication and scene-setting and introduction of characters without anything to really pull the reader in.

And a pretty bad earlier cover

But Lofts' hands are obviously the right ones.  She uses each new narrator to make revelations about Sorrel that the previous narrator couldn't have known, so that the technique actually makes the story more compulsive rather than less.  And Lofts eschews all the complexities of, say, William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, in which each narrator's style and rhythm of speaking is meticulously different from the others.  If I were to provide a generic quote from each of Lofts' narrators, I could safely bet you couldn't tell one from the other.  And that might be judged a weakness from a higher brow literary perspective, but is a huge strength if the goal is readability and enjoyment.

The first section is narrated by Louisa Kingaby (Cousin Lou).  When I mentioned the book in my book sale post, I quoted the beginning of her section as having made me want to read the book.  But I actually cut off the quote too soon:

For nearly fifty years I had performed the tasks and carried out the duties which fall to the lot of the unmarried and not-quite-independent member of a large family. I had been present at births, and deathbeds, tended numerous cases of sickness, and been often entrusted with the tactful breaking of bad news. But I do not think I ever had a task less to my liking than that of telling my cousin Josiah that his first-born was a daughter.

For the ending of this paragraph introduces, right from the start, the crucial theme of girls being of less value than boys.  In fact, Lou goes on soon after to ponder this puzzling valuation:

And I thought how strange men were. My father had not welcomed me; yet it was I who stayed with him to the end and nursed him through two apoplectic strokes and closed his eyes at the last. Men were indeed very strange.

And Lou, who has been, since childhood, more or less in love with Josiah—in whose home she becomes a permanent fixture after Sorrel's birth—has a real charm all her own.  My only regret about the multiple narrator strategy here is that it deprived me of the chance of spending more time in Lou's head.  And Lofts too may have felt Lou to be a kindred spirit, as she has Lou muse, Room of One's Own style:

But although I have always been kept busy my mind has never been so much occupied that I could not notice what went on around me. And maybe because my own life has not been very eventful, I have tended to take a great interest in other people's more exciting ones. (Sometimes I thought that if I had had more time and more privacy when I was young I could have written a book like Mrs. Radcliffe or Miss Fanny Burney.)

Lou tells Sorel's story from her birth until just after her father's death.  Together, they both outgrow their love for the old man who treats Sorrel so poorly because she is a mere girl, and Lou's steadfast devotion shifts to Sorel instead.

Norah Lofts

The second section, beginning just after Sorel has declared her intention of running her father's business for herself, is narrated by Jamie Brooke, a young clerk in her father's office.  In this section, there is romance of a sort, and Sorrel's exhilarating confrontation with the tyrannical head clerk, Cobbitt, who fancies himself unofficially in charge since there is only a wisp of a girl overseeing things.  We also get Jamie's apt description of Sorrel's personality (which perhaps fits the novel itself as well?):

I described a perfectly ordinary young girl whom circumstances had placed in an unusual position; but as the days followed one another and financial worries became so familiar to me that they no longer could absorb all my attention, I became aware that Sorrel Kingaby was not a perfectly ordinary young girl. She was like a box with which I used to play when I was small. It was square and the sides were painted; and inside it there was another square box with other pictures on the sides; and within that there was another, and another, until the last cube was too small to have a lid and was like a dice, solid, but with infinitesimal pictures on its tiny sides. And each box, although only part of the whole plaything, was complete and perfect in itself.

The third section, narrated by a rather surprisingly intellectual smuggler named Tom Borthwick, shows us another, very different side of Sorrel, and the fourth, narrated by the governess Sorrel hires to care for her younger sisters, powerfully reveals the darker side of Sorrel's independence.  All of the narrations are equally compelling—even the last, for whose narrator few readers will find much sympathy.

The third narrator, Borthwick, is prone to what in later years would have been called the blues, and the sense of impending doom that comes upon him now and then not only plays eloquently into one of the main themes of the novel, but likewise must have expressed what many people were feeling when the novel was written, in the midst of the darkest times of the war, when Britain's fate was still very much up in the air.  This passage might even be a sort of oblique reference to the war happening 150-odd years in the novel's future:

It was the thing that I called, in my mind, my darkness; it was, I think, akin to the evil spirit that troubled Saul, the king of Israel; but in my case sweet music, especially harp music would only have aggravated the condition. […] In the hour of the evil spirit I saw myself, and other men, not as trees, walking, but as motes, infinitesimally small, blowing through the cold outer spaces of the universe, lost between star and star, exiled from all comfort under the icy light of the moon . . . a lifetime less than a breath's span, a person less than an ant. […]  Above all, I wanted to leave the moonlight, seek warmth and brightness, have a glass in my hand, a pipe in my mouth, some cheerful voice in my ears, so that I might forget the vision of a doomed human race, rushed along, like cattle to the slaughter-house.

And this bleak vision is at the heart of The Brittle Glass, as the short epilogue spells out.  There, a fifth narrator, in the year 1937, comes across Sorrel's grave, and then meets a schoolmistress who tells her a bit more about Sorrel and mentions an old man in town who might know more.  It turns out that the story we've read has come from the old man's gossipy, rather cynical memories, but even as the schoolmistress mentions him, she casts some doubt on his version of the story:

"Anyhow, I may be silly; but I prefer to keep my illusions—or rather to depend upon my own imagination instead of old Middleditch's."

She spoke the name with rancour; I noted it with care. But I said, soothingly, "After all, in a matter of this kind one guess is as good as another, isn't it?"

So that we are left, rather eloquently, musing along with the narrator about how present reality will one day be irretrievably shrouded in the mists of time, and wondering whether there might not be much more to Sorrel's story that could never be known:

After all, how much nearer, even with much documentary evidence, can we come to understanding anyone of the myriad dead who have gone to their graves, carrying their real secrets, of motive and essence and personality, into the silence with them?

Oddly, although even I, approaching this novel with a bit of a resistance to historical fiction, ultimately found it to be a very powerful story, it does not seem to be one of Lofts' most admired works.  Several of her novels have been reprinted in the last few years and remain in print, and more are available in ebook format.  But The Brittle Glass is not among them.  How could this be?

Regardless, although this was the first Norah Lofts I've read, it definitely won't be the last.  Are there any recommendations as to what my next Lofts experience should be?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Update: Mysteriously romantic (2 of 3)

17 more authors of mystery and romance in this batch, and lots of fun covers too.

I'm particularly infatuated by some of the covers of books by DESEMEA WILSON (who wrote as Diana Patrick).  Mind you, this doesn't necessarily mean that I would be infatuated with the books themselves, but if, at next month's giant spring book sale, I were to come across a copy of the above with an intact dustcover, I wouldn't expect my powers of resistance to kick in even a little.  Clearly Wilson's publisher went to some trouble to get talented artists and designers for her books.

Rather more surreal, but still interesting, is the cover of The Toasted Blonde, a novel by DOROTHY WEBB (writing as Christopher Reeve—not to be confused with Superman!).  One wonders about the meaning of the said blonde's disembodied head floating in (I believe) the shadow of the man's cocktail glass...

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the covers of some of MAY CHRISTIE's romances, especially The Jazz Widow, which certainly sounds like a literary masterpiece to me…

On the other hand, I found the cover of Christie's The Gilded Rose, though as cheesy as a plate of macaroni, to be rather appealing.

And while paperback reprints aren't known for their subtlety or artistic value, as in the case of this HERMINA BLACK reprint…

…occasionally they offer something rather interesting, as in the case of the bizarre but striking cover of ELIZABETH SAX ROHMER's Bianca in Black.  (More pressing than the question of why the bride wore black, it seems to me, is what she had done to anger her hairdresser to the point that she wound up with that hair color at her wedding?)

For some reason I find this reprint of NETTA MUSKETT's Plaster Cast somewhat compelling too, though I'm not sure why—something about the rather despairing look on the young woman's face, perhaps?

For the most part, Muskett's publisher wouldn't get any design awards from me, but there's something naïvely striking about this one:

And with all this focus on judging books by their covers, I don't want to neglect to mention that EVELYN BALFOUR seems to have been quite an interesting figure quite apart from her book covers.  A pioneer of organic farming, Balfour wrote the classic environmentalist text The Living Soil after having written three earlier mystery novels.

Evelyn (Eve) Balfour

All 17 authors are listed below (as well as a few more of their book covers), and all have already been added to the main list.

(aka Hearnden Balfour, combined pseudonym with Beryl Hearnden)

A pioneer of the organic farming movement, Balfour is best remembered for The Living Soil (1943), considered a classic environmentalist text, but she also published three mystery novels—The Paper Chase (1927), The Enterprising Burglar (1928), and Anything Might Happen (1931).

(married name Guichard)

Journalist and novelist whose fiction—often focused on Jewish life in Poland and Russia—includes When Summer Comes Again (1915), Baldwin's Kingdom (1917), and Passover (1920); she later wrote three novels with Elliot Monk which may be mysteries, including The St. Cloud Affair (1931).

HERMINA BLACK (1893-????)

Prolific author of romance and romantic suspense from the 1930s to 1980s; titles include The Love Hotel (1935), Passion's Web (1937), Sweet Pilgrimage (1943), Moon Over Morocco (1951), Jennifer Harlow, M.D. (1957), Private Patient (1962), and Danger in Montparnasse (1967).

(married name Byrde)

Children's writer and author of romantic novels set in exotic locales, including The Sleeping Princess (1941), Say Not Good-Night (1943), Journey to Venice (1949), An Oak for Posterity (1952), and The One Black Swan (1955); she also published short fiction of suspense and horror.

MAY CHRISTIE (1894-1946)
(married names Martin and Stamatiadis, later changed to Mazzavini)

Prolific author of romantic novels in the 1920s and 1930s—and many more published serially; titles include At Cupid's Call (1921), The Girl in the Corner Flat (1923), The Girl Who Dared (1925), Kitty Sees Life (1929), The Jazz Widow (1930), Playgirls in Love (1932), and Women in Love (1937).

(pseudonym of Annie Ada Clapperton, née Reeves)

Author of a single novel, The Other Richard Graham (1911), described as a mystery adventure set in New Zealand; Saturday Review called it "a story which grips the reader and holds the attention from the first page to the last."

MARJORIE DOUIE (c1888-1946)

Author of three mystery/thrillers set in exotic locales, including The Pointing Man: A Burmese Mystery (1917), The Man from Trinidad (1918), and The Man Who Tried Everything (1919).

One of Helen Eastwood's pseudonyms

HELEN EASTWOOD (1892-c1984)
(née Baker, aka Olive Baxter, aka Fay Ramsay)

Enormously prolific author of romantic suspense under her own name and her pseudonyms; her catchy titles include To Be Worthy of Shadows (1938), Green Eyes for Torture (1939), Synthetic Halo (1940), Ken's Watery Shroud (1942), Destiny for Jill (1961), and Sweet Trespasser (1978).

(née Mackenzie)

Apparently the author of a single novel, 'Ware Wolf (1928), which, according to a contemporary review, "tries to reconcile the old Were Wolf legend with modern science and constructs a romance on this subject which has as a background the conspiracy for a world revolution."

JOAN KENNEDY (1885-1965)
(pseudonym of Alice Mabel Gibbs, married name Morrison)

A prolific romance novelist from the 1920s to 1960s; her many titles include The Muck Pond (1923), Miss Lavender of London (1929), Ragged Orchid (1932), Magnolias in the Rain (1948), Flaming Days (1950), and Love in the Mist (1953), as well as a memoir, Myself the Pilgrim (1952).

(aka John Milbrook)

Author of at least a dozen novels of the 1910s and 1920s, including The Honest Lawyer (1916), His Grace of Grub Street (1918), The Turning Sword (1922), Sheriff's Deputy (1924), So Speed We (1926), The Bride’s Groom (1928), and—under her pseudonym—A Bridport Dagger (1930).

Netta Muskett

(née Hill, aka Anne Hill)

Prolific author of romance and gothic novels under her own name and her pseudonym; titles include The Jade Spider (1927), The Flickering Lamp (1931), The Shadow Market (1938), Love In Amber (1942), Cast The Spear (1950), The White Dove (1956), and The Fettered Past (1961).

NANCY OAKLEY (1894-????)
(née Rainford)

Author of two mystery novels with husband John Oakley—The Clevedon Case (1923) and The Lint House Mystery (1925).

(pseudonym of Rose Elizabeth Knox Ward)

Wife of thriller writer Sax Rohmer and the author of a single mystery of her own, Bianca in Black (1958), about a model who believes herself to be cursed; she later collaborated with Rohmer's former assistant on Master of Villainy: A Biography of Sax Rohmer (1972).

PHILLIPA TYLER (?1876-????)

More research needed; author of at least three novels—The Lushington Mystery (1919), The Manaton Disaster (1920), and A Quest for a Fortune (1924).

A reprint edition of Webb's The Toasted Blonde

(née Stephens, aka Jermyn March, aka Christopher Reeve)

Author of mysteries and thrillers under several names; titles include Rust of Murder (1924), Dear Traitor (1925), The Man Behind the Face (1927), The Ginger Cat (1929), The Toasted Blonde (1930), Murder Steps Out (1942), The House that Waited (1944), and Lady, Be Careful (1948).

DESEMEA WILSON (1878-1964)
(née Newman, aka Barbara Desmond, aka Diana Patrick)

Prolific romantic novelist from the 1920s to 1940s, mostly under the name "Diana Patrick"; titles include The Islands of Desire (1920), Dusk of Moonrise (1922), Dreaming Spires (1923), Gay Girl (1927), Outpost of Arden (1930), Fragile Armour (1936), and A Little Season (1943).

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